Him and me time

23/10/2014

My youngest wants the day off tomorrow, end of half term, he asked very politely and pleadingly. I said I would listen to his reasons as to why he thinks he should have the day off. He writes the list on the whiteboard in the kitchen, and when I stand and read it, he is literally next to me so that he is touching me. I laugh; the list is so very Toby. He can be eternally optimistic and hopeful, and it beams out of him. His list is this:

  • I will help you with chores or cooking or baking 
  • I won’t miss anything
  • I will do my homework   
  • I will do anything 

Please! Next to it, he has drawn a smiley face with a speech bubble that also says please.

He is desperate for an answer, he offers to do anything I ask him, and so I put him to work.

I get him weighing out ingredients and mixing them, he likes getting the electric scales exact. He masters the hand mixer, after an initial showering of caster sugar and butter, he cracks an egg, chops walnuts and best of all enjoys licking the spoon at the end.

 At one point he puts on the Benny Hill theme tune, not because of scantily clad women being chased by a slightly disturbing milkman, which is my association as a child of the 70’s …. ….But to Toby and his mates in school it is simply speeded up music in which to go on fast-forward doing everyday things, in this case making the cake at top speed. He acted it all out as we just giggled and I joined in, it was that silly kind of fun, which had us both laughing.

I make a mental video, because it is one of those priceless, in the moment things, both enjoying making each other laugh, Toby lights up and shines.

When he was little he use to act out stories with his brother, in the old house there was a wooden arbour over the back gate. The boys would perform Jack & the Beanstalk and climb up each side, whilst assorted audience members would sit on the rug and watch them; there has always been a part of Toby which likes to perform so it is wonderful to see him enjoying drama since he started secondary school. He is finding his thing, he is in a place where he can now engage and manage what he likes and enjoys, he has found his coping strategies and a group of mates, and he can be himself. He has found his feet, so to speak, he works in the lessons he likes, we don’t count art, RE or PE, and we focus on the stuff he focuses on. We discount the red ‘homework not done’ stamps in his planner that aren’t English, Maths or History, he now knows this is the worst that can happen, that it is no big deal. Homework at one time equated into Sunday night hell with a nuclear fallout that no one could tread, half way through year 7 school and I negotiated boundaries where homework was concerned. Only necessary homework is to be done, this is not to say that homework nights are stress free but they are more manageable and therefore Toby copes which means the rest of us do not have to deal with the force of his aggression, so therefore we cope better as well.

Toby knows his limits, we know his limits, and we know when he has reached saturation point, now that he is older he is also wiser as to how to express when he needs a day off.

I know that a lot of kids’ angle for the last day of term off, but what is fantastic is that we are even at a point where Toby gets that. We have reached a point where he can tell us what he needs, we no longer have violent outbursts or screaming rages or the abusive language. What I hear, is him telling me that he needs a day at home and downtime with me. I know that he has been concerned about me since I had a minor procedure this week, it startled him and I know that what he needs is time with me, without his dad or his brother being home. He has been very cuddly with me and checking that I am ok and asking if I need anything, seemingly simple things on the surface but understanding or being able to express empathy is not a given. My heart melts because he is telling me that he needs him and me time.

As he is helping to tidy up, he asks me if I will give him an answer before bedtime, I string him out a bit longer and then tell him it is ok with me, but he has to ask dad. He comes back into the kitchen and gives me a hug, he tells me dad said yes and that he is going to make me breakfast in bed of tea and toast. He asks me if he can eat toast in bed with me in the morning, I smile and say yes.

 My boy needs him and me time.

 

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